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Let me tell you about the time I made Tamales.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

It was almost exactly a year ago.

Well, it was just after Christmas and if you were reading back then you may remember we had twenty-one people in ONE house. Food was going quick, but we always have some sort of Mexican dish on New Years Eve. Sure, we could have ordered out and made things super easy, but I had the brilliant idea to make a Mexican feast.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

Only, it was not all that brilliant for me.

I am not sure what I was thinking trying to make homemade tamales for the very first time for twenty-one plus people (yeah, there where friends too). I am insane and normally I have fun cooking, but these tamales were just not fun. 

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

I spent the entire day on New Years Eve cooking beef and shredding beef, trying to spread the masa evenly in the corn husk, wrapping tamales and then trying to figure out how to steam them with any kind of steamer.

And then I made Mexican rice, chorizo and guacamole.

Let’s just say it was a good thing that New Years Eve is such a long night. I needed it.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

In all honesty the tamales turned out pretty good for my first time, but they were not pretty and I probably messed up multiple things within the recipe. Luckily that did not seem to stop anyone and they all got eaten.

I have to say though, the guacamole was the winner of the night, with the chorizo coming in close behind. Then the tamales.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

And you know what?

I am pretty sure I want to try again this year. My cousins are coming out again for Christmas and I am just not sure we can do New Years without tamales.

So this meal was kind of getting me prepped.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

Actually, not really.

These burrito bowls are so easy, but they taste like tamales. Well, they have tamale flavors. Authentic tamales are made with beef, but I only had chicken on hand and I wanted to keep things on the healthier side.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

I have to say, polenta makes an awesome base to a burrito bowl.

Plus, it’s fun to switch up the rice, and polenta works really well with the saucy chicken. It is extra creamy and creamy is always, always good. Especially during cold winter days.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

The best part is that this is so versatile. Use your favorite meat or whatever you have on hand. Just make sure to adjust the cooking times. And if you want to go vegetarian try swapping all beans for the chicken or using lentils. I think both would be SO good, but my family hates beans, so that was just not an option for me.

Oh, and I totally forgot to add the crushed tortilla chips to the top of this, but really you must do this. It is so good.

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories Per Serving: 950 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or thighs (I used a mix of both - you may also use pork beef or lentils for a vegetarian version)
  • 2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 onion slided
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 1 orange pepper sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans drained and rinsed if using canned

Cheesy Polenta

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup polenta I used Bob's Red Mill
  • 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese shredded plus more for topping if desired
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter your preference

For topping

  • 1 avocado mashed with a pinch of salt and pepper (or some [guacamole |]
  • 4 ounces queso fresco cheese crumbled
  • fresh cilantro chopped
  • in crushed tortilla chips (forgot to add these the photos but you should do this!)


  • Heat a very large skillet over medium- high heat and add the olive oil. When the skillet is hot, but not smoking (if it starts to smoke, turn heat down a bit and wait 5 minutes before adding the veggies) add the onions and red and orange peppers. Stir fry the peppers for 3-5 minutes, until they just begin to soften. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Keep warm by covering the plate with foil.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once the chicken is browned all over add the the enchilada sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic and onion powder and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the chicken in the sauce for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and shreds easily.
  • Meanwhile, make the polenta. Pour the chicken broth and milk into a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep warm and then just before serving, stir in the cheddar cheese and butter, season with salt and pepper. If the polenta seems a little thick you can add a tablespoon of butter or extra milk.
  • When the chicken is done cooking remove the chicken from the heat and shred the chicken with 2 forks right in the sauce. If your peppers have cooled off too much I would toss them with the chicken to get them warm again. Toss in the black beans until warmed through.
  • To assemble the bowls, add a nice serving of polenta to each bowl. Top with the peppers and saucy chicken. Finish the bowls off with a dollop of mashed avocado, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro and crushed tortilla chips. Dig. In.
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Easy Chicken Tamale Burrito Bowls |

Can we just please dig in now? YES.

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  1. 5 stars
    This was so frigging good!! We are obsessed!!!!! Instead of the stove top I made the chicken in the crockpot then threw the beans in prior to dinner to heat up. The peppers were made on the stove top as well as the polenta (I used grits as they are interchangeable)

  2. 5 stars
    So good!! We all liked it but my 16 yr old enthusiastically asked me to make it again. He said the flavors were so good! And I agree. It was delicious. Plus I love polenta!

    I used 1 tsp garlic powder and 2 tsp onion powder.

    I realized at the last minute that I had quick cooking polenta (Bob’s Red Mill) which was nice. Didn’t have to cook it long, just 5 minutes and it was nice and thick.

    Didn’t add the peppers and onions back to the sauce and chicken since most of us don’t like them but my husband loved them! I kept them warm in my oven (turn to 350 for 4 minutes then turn off and put them in while everything else cooks).

    I’d offer sour cream as a topping next time.

  3. 5 stars
    So good! I substituted grits for the polenta. I also added mushrooms to the onions and peppers. We all loved it! Thanks for another great recipe.

    1. Hey Julie,
      Fantastic!! 🍁🍂 I am delighted to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it and sharing your review! xT

  4. 5 stars
    This was amazing!!! I too forgot the beans and I used stir fry beef. Threw it in the Instapot for 12 minutes and it’s slap ya mama good. I mean, this is one of the best recipes I’ve found in forever. The seasoning is fantastic. It’s like a Hispanic inspired version of shrimp and grits. But mine was a little more saucy, probably because I used the instapot. Sooooo good, now I have to go through your other recipes. Lol

    1. Hey Lance,
      Happy Friday!! I am thrilled that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for trying it out!! xx

  5. This was excellent! I did this for my weekly lunch meal prep. Surprisingly easy to make and found all the ingredients at my regular grocery store. No special trips to special stores. Will definitely be making this again!

    1. Hey Leslie,
      Awesome! Thanks a lot for making this recipe and sharing your feedback. I’m glad it was enjoyed! xTieghan